GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes.
That included blowing a one-goal third-period lead at home down the stretch, with Tampa Bay missing the playoffs by a point.
"You look back at that game and think, ‘Maybe that’s the one that cost us the playoffs," coach Jon Cooper said. "Our lockeroom was well aware of that."
It certainly showed in the Lightning’s dominating 4-1 win over the worst-in-the-NHL Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Tampa Bay (23-6-2) boasts the league’s best record and a season-high six-game winning streak.
"We’ve got a different team this year," captain Steven Stamkos said.
Stamkos admitted Thursday’s win was "bittersweet" after seeing veteran wing Ryan Callahan leave with an upper body injury following a nasty spill into the boards in the third period. Callahan was seen with his right arm in a sling, a sign he could be out an extended period. At the very least, he’s out "more than day-to-day," Cooper said.
"I’m sick to my stomach," Stamkos said. "It didn’t look good."
The Lightning, however, looked great - better than in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over the best-in-the-west Blues. Brayden Point, arguably the quietest/calmest player on the team, spark this with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick — a goal, an assist and a fight (his first as a pro); Point extended his career-long goal streak to five games.
"I’ve never seen (Point get angry)," defenseman Victor Hedman said.
"Good to see him stick up for himself," Stamkos said.
Quipped Point: "Not a guy that goes looking for it, for sure. Happy I could stand in there."
The Lightning scored twice in a 41-second span midway through the first period to take the lead for good. The first came after an absolute clinic by the power play. Vladislav Namestnikov pounced on a rebound when Arizona goalie Antti Raanta robbed Steven Stamkos with a sprawling stick save.
Nikita Kucherov tallied his league-leading 22nd goal of the season in the second. Tyler Johnson scored to extend his point streak to six games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn’t challenged a ton, but was sharp overall in making 32 saves to pick up his league-most 21st win.
"Obviously we feel good coming out of this building compared to last year," Hedman said.